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The basics
Finland: Applying to University - Must read

Applying to a Finnish University

Looking to study in Finland, but not sure how to apply to university? Don’t worry, you can find all the key information right here

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Understanding how the university application system works abroad, especially in the country that you’d like to study in is crucial. You don’t want to be caught out and have your application rejected because it is incomplete. Therefore, you will need to understand how the university application system works first. After which, we suggest that you contact the university of your interest directly for more details as each one will have their own set of unique requirements and application processes.


To help you apply to a Finnish university, we’ve come up with a quick guide on everything you need to know about the application process in the country.


Things to find out before applying

When you’ve decided on the degree programme you want to study, the next step is looking at deadlines and entry requirements. The Study Finland website is a good source to find out deadlines for specific universities using their handy search function.


If you’re unsure of certain details then don’t be afraid to get in touch with the international office at the university you’re interested in. Some good questions to ask them include:

  • What are the entry requirements for a specific degree programme?
  • Do they have additional deadlines?
  • What documents do they require from applicants?
  • Are there any scholarship options available?


Are you eligible to study in Finland?

If you’re looking to apply for an undergraduate programme, you are required to have one of these:

  • An International Baccalaureate (IB) Diploma
  • A European Baccalaureate (EB) Diploma
  • A foreign qualification that provides eligibility for higher education studies in both your home country and the awarding country


Students are usually selected based on grades, their performance in the entrance exam, or both.


If you’re applying for a Master’s programme, then you will need to have a Bachelor’s degree or a similar higher education degree. Applicants are also required to have three years of work experience under your belt after obtaining your Bachelor’s.


What documentation do I need for my Finnish application?

Each university will have their own set of compulsory documents they require from you. In general, you will need to send them transcripts of your educational records and certificates. For instance, your O Levels, A levels certificates etc. Furthermore, these copies need to be officially certified as proof of authenticity.


Types of applications for Finnish universities

Joint application

You can choose up to six study programmes that you would like to apply to with the same joint application form.  You will need to list down your degree programme in order of your preference. This order is binding once the application period closes.


Separate application

This process simply refers to you filling out a separate application form for each programme. A separate application means that you are applying directly to the university’s study programme. Depending on how the university accepts applications, you might only need one form to apply for a few study programmes in that university. In others, you might need separate forms for each individual study programme within the same institution.


When can you start applying?

There are two application periods for Finnish universities. The first round of applications begins in early January and ends in mid-January. The second round opens in mid-March and ends in early April. Each application is catered for specific degree programmes.


The application in January is for Bachelor’s programmes at the Universities of Applied Sciences (UAS) and Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes at universities and arts universities. All of these programmes will be conducted in English. This period is meant for programmes that commence in autumn. However, some Bachelor’s programmes that start in January instead, will have their application period in September.


The application in March is catered to Bachelor’s and Master’s programmes at UAS that are conducted in either Finnish or Swedish.


Note that some degree programmes might offer their own additional application rounds outside of the main application period.


Once all of the applications have been processed, the universities will then send out an official letter of admission to successful applicants. Results are typically announced at the end of June. Remember that you will need to confirm your placement, your university will provide you with instructions on how to do just that.


Students are only allowed to accept one study place per term. This means that you won’t be able to accept another offer if that programme starts in the same academic term.


For instance, if you’ve already accepted a place from your separate application, you won’t be able to accept a study place offered from your joint application if the study programme begins in the same academic term.


You can also apply for other tertiary programmes such as the IB or EB programmes in Finland through the joint application process, the only difference is that you’ll be sending your education certificates and documents directly to the school itself.


Application statuses for Finnish universities

When the joint application period ends, your application status may reflect one of these few statuses:

  • Accepted
  • Accepted (a condition set by the university)
  • Accepted (waiting for results from your higher preferences)
  • On a waiting list
  • Cancelled/Did not receive a study place


If you’ve been accepted, congrats! All you have to do now is to confirm your place.


If you’ve been given a condition set by the university, this means that in order to gain admission, you will need to fulfil that condition. For example, if you were not able to obtain your final grades during the application period, if your grades fall short of their requirements, then the university will reject your admission.


If your acceptance status states: “waiting for results from your higher preferences”, it means that you will need to wait for the universities that you applied to with higher preference to publish their results before you can accept the place offered.


If you’ve been placed on a waiting list, you will be offered a place if the applicants before you in the queue don’t confirm their acceptance.


Will you need to take an entrance exam?

As an eligible applicant, you may need to take an entrance exam. These are usually held in Finland. However, there are some alternative options that will enable you to take the exam abroad. Check with the admissions services of the university or UAS that you are applying to. They will be able to tell you if you can take the exam in your country.


How to apply for a visa

Depending on where you come from, you might require a visa to gain entry to Finland. If you’re a non-EU/EEA national, we strongly suggest that you get started on your student residence permit application process as soon as you have been offered a place in the university or UAS. If you need to go to Finland to take the entrance exam, then you might also need a short-term visa.


To find out more about how to apply for your student visa in Finland, have a look at this article.


Tips for applying

Give yourself ample time to research which degree programmes you are interested in, and where you can go to study them. Contact the university’s international office to find out more about their degree programmes and scholarships (if there are any available). For more information on how we can help you with scholarships, have a look at this page.


Always take note of the application deadlines and the kinds of requirements each programme has. Apply on time and organise yourself so that you are prepared for the different tests and exams needed. Don’t hesitate to check with the university’s admissions department if there is anything that you’re unsure of.


Excited about the prospect of studying in Finland? Start looking for your perfect Finnish university now.